Smart home technology is all the rage. Smart thermostats. Smart toasters. You name it. Yet most people are unaware that smart tech can also help us prepare for and ride out extreme weather events.

Last year, we were pummeled with floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and droughts. All in all, there were 16 different extreme weather events. And each tallied billions of dollars in damages. In fact, it was the costliest year on record for natural disasters in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But despite growing concern over extreme weather events, an Esurance survey found that the vast majority of us are ill-prepared for them.

And while many acknowledge that large-scale tech can play an important role, hardly anyone is investing in personal tech to brace for storms.

Here are some ways connected home technology can help you prepare for and recover from inclement weather.

Get severe weather alerts

Ever come home to find a pool of water around an open window? So much for awnings. But now, at least, there are devices that can alert you to an open window when it’s expected to rain that day. Enough forewarning helps you take the necessary precautions and keep your home tightly sealed in case you forget.

These systems send up-to-the-minute weather conditions to your smartphone and clue you in on the current temp, UV index, wind speed, and more. Plus, smart home devices work best as an ecosystem. That means syncing up connected weather systems with your thermostat to adjust it accordingly. And reminding you to prepare if a storm’s on the horizon.

Combat wildfires

Hear the one about the Aussie who saved his home from a wildfire using his sprinklers? It happened. He saw the fire fast approaching on security cameras and activated his smart irrigation system from his phone. And successfully kept the oncoming inferno at bay.

Thankfully local news alerts notified him about the fire, prompting him to take action. But there are even smart irrigation systems that can activate automatically when certain conditions are met. That might mean dry soil conditions or, say, rising temperatures from encroaching flames.

Additionally, smart irrigation systems do a good job at keeping mulch and plant life moist. That’s a win for curbside appeal, yes. But it also helps prevent them from becoming dry, combustible brush.

Spotting water leaks

One of the most common, and costly, claims stem from water leaks.

Sub-zero temperatures during a brutal storm can do a number on your water pipes. Once they freeze, the risk of bursting grows exponentially. And should they burst, every second wasted incurs more damage.

Smart leak detectors can offer responsiveness where it counts. Not only do they send notifications to your smartphone if moisture’s detected, but many can also stop the source in just seconds, using a connected valve. Others act as freeze detectors, alerting you if temperatures drop below a certain limit. This could prevent pipes from bursting in the first place.

It’s worth noting, too, that if you live in a flood-prone area and have seen your basement turn into a swimming hole, make sure you use a buoyant sensor. Some can fail when submerged under water.

Which brings us to our next smart device …

Smarten up your sump pump

If you’re a homeowner with a basement, you also probably have a sump pump. And it’s not uncommon for homeowners to find out that theirs isn’t working after the basement’s already flooded. But there are smart devices that can let you know if your sump pump’s kaput ahead of time.

Smartening up your sump pump doesn’t mean replacing it, either. Available Wi-Fi outlets can plug into your sump pump and connect with a monitoring service. These surveil your sump pump 24/7 and feed on high volumes of incoming data to make sure it’s working properly. If problems are spotted, you’ll receive alerts via a smartphone app .

Stay connected without connection

Small, portable radios have long been must-haves in emergency kits. But you might also include a portable phone charger in yours. Like a portable radio, smartphones and tablets keep a necessary lifeline to the outside world in the event of a power outage. That means reaching digital radio broadcasts, using social media, tracking storms, and staying updated with recovery efforts.

There’s also another, perhaps more obvious, must-have to stay connected: the back-up generator. And those of the “smart tech” variety have some unique offerings. With features like fuel level and run-time monitoring, auto idle on/off, and overload reset, smart generators can self-correct and preserve battery life. Like most connected-devices, they can also sync up with your phone via Bluetooth® so you can control yours remotely and keep tabs on its health .

Have a recovery plan

Preparation goes a long way. It can minimize damage and make picking up where you left off that much easier. And just as important is having a recovery plan.

Given the number of claims that resulted from last year’s severe weather events, it’s important to have the right renters or homeowners coverage in place. Make sure any upgrades to the home are accounted for, and do an inventory of all your stuff so it’s adequately covered. And make sure you have a digital record of these things so the picking-up-where-you-left-off process is faster.

Because we’re an insurance company, we also have to ask — are you covered? Start a quick, free quote and find out how much you could be saving on coverage. Or check out our homeowners insurance calculator to find out how much it could cost and what coverages you might need.

Safe and smart | Smart technology | Smart home

about Evan

From writing content for life coaches to working on indie film press releases, Evan’s motley repertoire has been considerable in the last couple of years. Now he employs his varied aptitude as a content writer for Esurance. He’s also a self-proclaimed polyglot in training with a proclivity for dog-eared books.